I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 13. My freshman honors biology class dissected fetal pigs and I had nightmares for weeks. My mum and I didn’t eat animals very often as it was, so going vegetarian wasn’t a huge leap. I never struggled to find something to eat at a restaurant or went hungry at a party. Over the past 12 years, my love for animals continued to grow, and as the environmental effects of factory farming became more apparent, I was increasingly happy with my vegetarian lifestyle.
About two years ago, I began thinking about veganism. Somewhere in mind my I knew there was a discrepancy in my ethics in continuing to eat dairy and eggs, but perhaps because I was afraid going vegan would be difficult, I never let my mind wander too far down that path. While living in London, I talked myself out of going vegan because I wanted to enjoy all the amazing European cheeses. I told myself that Vermont would be the perfect place to try veganism and that I would start as soon as I moved there.
Yet after moving to Vermont in July of 2009, several months went by and I was still dragging my feet. Then one night I got a call from my mum. The humane group Mercy for Animals had just released undercover footage of male baby chickens being ground alive at a hatchery because they can’t lay eggs and don’t grow quickly enough to be raised profitably for meat. Hy-Line North America hatchery responded to the videos by saying that 200 million baby male chickens are ground alive every single year, and that it is a very common practice. That night, I became vegan.
To my surprise, it hasn’t been hard at all, except maybe fielding judgmental and rude comments. It’s been exciting to experience all the natural flavors of food without them being smothered in cheese or butter. I’ve felt healthier and much more at peace ethically. I did comprehensive research on dairy farming and felt well-informed and confident in my decision. Plus, experimenting with vegan restaurants around the country has been so fun!
So when I got Alicia Silverstone’s book The Kind Diet for my birthday, I was sort of nonplussed. I thought I already knew everything about veganism, and am not much of a cook, so I was afraid the book would be a waste. What I didn’t expect was another life changing moment.
The Kind Diet is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in years. Alicia did an incredible job compiling and relaying information about living a healthy, vegan life. But she also takes it one step further. She calls it being a superhero. Being a superhero essentially means being really, really good to your body. Superheros rarely or never eat refined sugar or processed foods with mile long lists of additives and preservative. They also eat a lot of whole grains and local seasonal vegetables.
Now, you’re not expected to start eating this way and never look back. Alicia herself says that she is superhero about 80% of the time and just regular vegan the other 20%. I’ve never been a particularly good eater. Those close to me will remember (long) periods when I essentially subsisted on Cheez-its, Wheat Thins, blocks of Gouda, and chocolate. But now that I’ve spent 12 years being good to animals, I’m ready to incorporate being good to myself into the mix.
It’s been four days so far and I am feeling really, really good. I’ve made miso soup and stocked up on lots of whole grains and fun new vegetables. We’re also trying to slowly purge our refrigerator and pantry of all non-superhero items, so on Sunday I made Alicia’s recipe for peanut butter cups, which I planned to take pictures of to share in this post, but..um…I ate them all. So last night I made vegan french toast, and it was about a million times better than when I had it at Counter in New York, and so easy! You just need bread, non-dairy milk, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and some oil for the pan. We also made a tofu scramble with vegan cheese and onions to add some protein to our breakfast-for-dinner French toast.
Well, I’m off to change in a phone booth and leap tall buildings in a single bound. Or at least keep eating like a superhero. I’ll let you know how it goes!